Nobel Peace Prize 2019: Abiy Ahmed wins award for bringing Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict to an end

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By Alice Tidey  & Euronews
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 17, 2019.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 17, 2019.   -  Copyright  REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri   -   Alexander Mahmoud

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Ahmed was given the prize "for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea".

The judging panel added that the distinction is also meant to recognise "all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions".

"The Committee hopes that the Nobel Peace Prize will strengthen Prime Minister Abiy in his important work for peace reconciliation," it also said.

The 20-year conflict started in 1998 with a violent two-year war that claimed the lives of as many as 100,000 people and pushed a further million people into exile or internal displacement, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.

Ahmed came to power in April 2018 and swiftly went about reforming the country's political, judicial and economic systems. The changes led to the arrest of dozens of high-ranking officials on charges of torture and corruption and to a relaxing of laws restricting the work of civil society organisations and opposition groups.

On July 9 of that same year, the two neighbours signed an agreement that demarcated their border and resumed diplomatic relations between them.

In a statement, Ahmed said that "this victory and recognition is a collective win for Ethiopians, and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia — the New Horizon of Hope — a prosperous nation for all."

The European Commission congratulated Ahmed for his win, writing on Twitter that "with his courage, he built bridges in the region, restarting peace talks after 20 years of stalemate with Eritrea."

"We stand with Ethiopia in its journey towards democratic reform and peace," it added.

Ahmed was among the favourites to win alongside Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Native Brazilian leader and environmentalist Raoni Metuktire for his work to protect the Amazon.

Earlier this week, the winners for Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Literature were announced.